Eric Foster is the co-founder and co-CEO of Sovereign Fields, a company that breeds cannabis plants with top-notch genetics using state-of-the-art technology. He has executive-level expertise in customer and vendor management, networking, project management, performance-based internet marketing, and IT security solutions.
In this episode, Eric shares how he and his wonderful team put Sovereign Fields ahead of the curve, the secret to staying relevant in this fastest-growing industry, and some pieces of advice for entrepreneurs who are trying to design their path into this new age industry.
Don’t miss out!
It’s a good feeling working with the plant and doing what you love to do now and actually being able to make a living out of it. – Eric Foster
Some Topics We Discussed Include
2:48 – Managing Humboldt Seeds and Sovereign Fields
4:16 – Loving The Hemp Business
4:34 – The secret to creating premium flower products
6:04 – Choosing to operate in the cannabis and hemp industry
8:52 – Words of wisdom
11:34 – Creating demand for their products
13:53 – Where to find them?
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Eric Foster
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: What’s up guys, Sonia Gomez coming to you from Las Vegas, Nevada. We are at the MJBizCon broadcasting live and super excited to announce the official launch of The Hemp Revolution podcast where we are sharing and telling the story of the entrepreneurs and the industry as we are pushing it forward.
This is firsthand, uncut raw footage of what’s happening behind the scenes and the real stories of the real people who are making it possible for you to get access to the highest quality cannabis and hemp products that are available on the marketplace.
Our mission is true to help you transform the way that you feel and function daily but also present you with the many unchartered opportunities that are available to you as a new or budding entrepreneur in the cannabis and hemp journey.
Super excited to introduce our guest for today where he will not be on camera with us and you’ll know why because amongst the what I call the hill people and the top-performing cultivators in the industry, he is somewhat of a legend, the original co-founder and co CEO of Sovereign Fields and Humbolt Seed organization.
Our guest today offers experience in global enterprise-level client and vendor development, networking, project management, performance-based internet marketing, and effective IT security solutions. Eric is fluent in German, Dutch, and English and has an incredible story to tell about all of the cool things that he’s doing in our industry right now. So, ladies and gentlemen, help me put your hands together and welcome our good friend, Eric Foster. Eric, what’s going on?
Eric Foster: Hey, Sonia, how are you? Thank you for having me.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I’m so excited to have you even more excited to tell your story. We have had a little bit of offline of pre-interview exchange, just such an incredible history that you’re carrying with you, so I’m super honored to be able to tell your story. Why don’t you for the folks who are listening here, why don’t you give me a quick and dirty on who you are and what you’re up to in our industry?
Managing The Humboldt Seeds and Sovereign Fields
Eric Foster: Boy, let’s see I started. I’m a co-founder and also CEO of Humboldt Seed organization, a small seed bank out of California. Also headquartered in San Sebastian, Spain. We sell to 58 different countries, over 12,000 shops, and little wooden packs, and most of the headshots probably seen our stuff in Europe and in Asia regions.
We also do Sovereign Fields that’s our hemp side of things. So anything under point three THC in the US, in Europe, it’s point two and in Switzerland, it’s 1%. So in each of those regions, we breed for the climate and for the cultures and customers there. And yeah, try our best to maintain a high quality and good enjoyable smokeable nuggets.
Sonia Gomez: What is your primary role in the company as a co-founder and co CEO?
Eric Foster: My partner Ryan, he’s more hands in the dirt, he does the breeding. I also do a little bit of breeding, but I handle more day to day business negotiations contracts, kind of the more business side of stuff.
Loving The Hemp Business
Sonia Gomez: What do you love most about what you’re doing in your business right on the hemp?
Eric Foster: On the hemp side, it’s a good feeling to be able to do what we do and not have to hide even though I don’t want to be on camera. It’s just a good feeling. You know, working with the plant and doing what you love to do now and actually being able to make a living out of it.
The Secret to Creating a Premium Flower Products
Sonia Gomez: Can I just tell you that I’m just cracking open some of your Sovereign Fields hemp product right now? And this is by far some of the best smelling hemp this is the smokeable flower that I have come across and I as you can imagine, come across a lot of product. This reminds me of home, I’m originally from Northern California born in Santa Cruz raised in the fields and Emerald triangle. My mom is still in Mendo and this just like, literally gave me a flashback to being back at home. What is the secret of creating premium flower products like this?
Eric Foster: In our situation, try not to work with your typical hamstrings. We’ll take cannabis strains and breed them in reverse. So for example, our cushion or I think you have the Mohito or the Sangria there?
Sonia Gomez: I got the sex in a bottle is what I got over here. This is, we are sovereign. It doesn’t say what it is. Right here.
Eric Foster: On the little track and trace by flourish. It’s a mohito. Yeah, that’s a hemp tonic phenotype. I believe it’s the purple phenotype that we call mohito. Or was it sangria? I’m not sure. But there’s two phenotypes, one sangria, one’s mohito. And those are cannabis strains bred and reverse into hemp. Man, it takes about four years and
Sonia Gomez: To stabilize the strain.
Eric Foster: Kind of just to get the testing down to where we need it. Yeah. So we do about 400 test a week, grow many seeds and call a lot of plants.
Choosing to Operate in the Cannabis and Hemp Industry
Sonia Gomez: What gave you guys the idea to move into obviously being where you’re from and having a history that runs pretty deep with this industry? You knew the opportunity before it even presented itself. But second to that, like why did you guys decide to come into this industry and operate on this side specifically with the hemp industry? Most people in canna, and the reason why I’m asking is because most people in cannabis, including myself, up until a few months ago, called hemp diet lead.
Eric Foster: Well, I mean, I’ll be honest with you, let’s compare this to alcohol. Do we know or have many friends that drink vodka all day long? No some of them drink Budweiser and Coors Light right? So if we were to compare that with what we call cannabis or cannabis light, kind of the same thing you know, we’ve got 30% strains of THC that might, after smoking a new user scare someone into not wanting to use it.
Sonia Gomez: So you’re responsible for the alien?
Eric Foster: Yeah, it’s more for you know your soccer mom that wants a quick little puff before she has to go pick the kids up and doesn’t want to be negated, or for the users that had a bad experience with cannabis and wants to smoke wants to be socially involved in what’s going on but doesn’t want it, be completely faded. So, and a lot of my friends and other CEOs and other older friends of mine, they’re all moving towards smoking to hemp, to be honest.
And a vast majority of my friends have given up cigarettes, especially the ones in Europe that are using splits Yeah, they’re using the kush hemp as the tobacco padding we call it and it’s gotten myself as well as a few of my other friends off the cigarettes.
Sonia Gomez: How long have you guys been in business with Sovereign and then also with your seed company?
Eric Foster: With Humboldt Seed organization, it will be about 12 years now this year. The Sovereign legitimately here sitting a business in the states three, doing the breathing about five.
Sonia Gomez: And what is it about this industry that keeps you coming back? Obviously, we’re chock full of trials and tribulations and things that would otherwise deter the fate what I call the faint of heart. What is the mission and the movement that you guys are so committed to that keeps you coming back year after year after year, regardless of the changing temperatures and compliance and, you know, all of these things that are, you know, we what I say sending the industry or weeding it out?
Eric Foster: Getting some of the, like you saygus wedding it out. It happens. We’ve seen it over 15 years, you know, I guess the easiest short answer is we’d be doing it anyways. So whether whatever the situation is, we’d probably be doing it anyways.
Words of Wisdom
Sonia Gomez: There’s a lot of folks from Humboldt especially Garberville the surrounding areas, all you know your [inaudible], what is widely known as the Emerald triangle which has been responsible for a lot of people’s access, safe access to cannabis and hemp products, I call them by the people who carry the ancient wisdom the folks who have been working generationally with this plan and I’m so great man shout out to all of them because they were– they every single one of them had a hand in my transformation.
I was in a near-fatal surfing accident. And after battling with traditional medicine and the whole medical system and being part of the system, I found myself overmedicated, overweight and depressed. And thank God for the doctors and the professionals who had been experimenting, researching working with Israel and then cultivating the products and making the tinctures and all of the things up in the Emerald triangle.
A lot of those folks are for some reason on able to make that you know, transition into what we’re seeing as the mainstream marketplace right now. What would be some words of wisdom since you’ve successfully created a brand and a mainstay and a positive reputation for yourself, you’re serving a global marketplace in multiple capacities?
I think there’s a question that’s unanswered that for a lot of people who want to make that transition safely so that they can apply their skills, their knowledge, their know-how, and continue that legacy for the next generation. What would be some pieces of advice that you could offer them while they’re trying to design their path into this new age industry?
Eric Foster: I think like you said, first and foremost, we want to thank them. It’s not about us it’s we’re just a small part. It’s like we’re standing on the shoulders of giants. We have to give credit where it’s due. Many people got in trouble and are still in trouble for some of the things that we do today and take for granted.
Regarding business-wise, brand-wise and kind of relevance in the industry, whether it’s a state industry and national industry or a global industry, first you have to do what you like. And I would say you have to be resilient. You have to keep at it. Sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it costs money. Sometimes you get knocked down, you’ve got to pull your socks back up, put your head down and keep crushing, keep going forward. There’s no real other advice I would give other than be resilient and persistent.
Creating Demand for their Products
Sonia Gomez: Being a brand owner, so there’s different tiers of challenges, right as a distributor or as a cultivator or whatever. We’re seeing a lot of challenges as a brand owner right now, dozens of brands are coming to market every single day. And the three biggest challenges that hemp brands specifically are trying to solve for is banking and merchant processing. You know, stabilize supply chain and distribution. Whether it’s online or offline, how do you guys stay relevant and continue to build a demand for your product? When in such a noisy marketplace? And what’s your primary go-to strategy go to market strategy Are you guys on or offline or both?
Eric Foster: Generally, we don’t do direct retail. We like to respect our distributors and our wholesalers, to let them do the retail with our global brand with humble that’s generally how we work. We have various distributors in various areas, they get a discount, they fulfill the shops in their region and zone and the end-users go to those shops and purchase the product.
Here in America with hemp, it’s a little bit different. We sell direct to the public, we sell direct to the shops, and we also work with the distributors. Basically, our motto here is basically he who pays gets we don’t do credit. We don’t do any type of fancy things like that. We do is we give very good rates of discount to the wholesalers and to the distributors generally, what I call European Keystone.
So we’ll give our best distributor and 50% off wholesale shops would be getting wholesale, which would be 50% off retail, and users would be paying retail. Generally, when giving those high type of margins all the way across the board, each one of them can also give a discount down line on their end to help facilitate sales and kind of keep everybody happy.
Sonia Gomez: So you’re not doing a direct to consumer push right now you’re solely focused on getting more distributors or retail outlets. You’re working B2B.
Eric Foster: In our specific model. Yes. Yeah. Our predominant business seeds, where we do go direct to the consumer, which our consumers are farmers. That’s our main specialty. We make hundreds of millions of seeds a year and worry about selling those.
Where to Find Them?
Sonia Gomez: Hell yeah, man. And if you guys I cannot wait to you guys have smellivision because if you knew what was inside of this package right now, where can they? First of all, I have a million followers online. My People love cannabis, my people– my crew is called legalize it, don’t criticize it. Like we’re all about the movement.
We’re all about online education, we help the old school come into the new school like we have that conversation safe and compliant way that allows people who have liked and passionate about this industry and movement for a long time. Now they can see from behind the scenes what’s happening here and still wave their flag of participation. But I know these schools are going to want to get their hands on this.
So where can– people I’m going to get hit up I get a message every three seconds when they see something like they’re hitting me up directly and they’re like, where can you pick that up? And if I’m telling you this is loud, AF, Okay, you guys MJBizCon came, cracked with Sovereign Fields this year. So, I’ll be reviewing this later when we’re not in the convention center and I know that you guys are going to want to taste and smell and keep some of this on deck, where can they find your products distributed? And are you going to make an exception and let me distribute the ship?–
Eric Foster: I would actually. Absolutely, I would.
Sonia Gomez: Bring it up top. I like it. Okay, good.
Eric Foster: So if you want info you can go to sovereignfields.com pick up Vladdy he’s our media guy with bita.net cannabis by Corey. My friends and supporters back here.
Sonia Gomez: Love them.
Eric Foster: Yeah, you can check our website out sovereignfields.com. We’re also distributed by Blue Ridge Sovereign, which is a partnership between Blue Ridge Hemp CO and Sovereign Fields. So we like to kind of stay vertically integrated as far as making the seeds growing our stuff, self-distributing as well. And if you’d like to distribute, we’d love to get a working relationship with you and–
Sonia Gomez: Hell yeah. So the cool thing about what we do and we’re old heads you like my husband was called debating and you know, early 90s. My life was completely transformed by cannabis and hemp and thank God for a doctor out of Europe actually who introduced me to my endocannabinoid system and taught me about phytonutrients and strain selection and really turned me from like a teenage rebellious stoner to like an educated advocate my rights as a patient in California were violated and I had to go toe to toe with legal for my rights to safe access. And that put me in Colorado to support legislation that will legalize cannabis.
I owned and operated one of the first licensed dispensaries there. And in the last two years have built one of the largest online education based communities for cannabis and passionate consumers. Through that we’ve attracted all these other cool influencers like moms and grandmas and grandpas, and the fitness community, all these people who have incredible communities, and they want to participate in the hemp movement by that they don’t know what products to support, what brands that they can trust, anything like that.
So they look to me for that kind of advice. So collectively, I represent millions of consumers who need and want education and really premium products, and I love already like the energy I can feel the culture of your company and the values that you guys uphold. I can smell it, like I said, the smells like home, I can literally almost taste the terpenes and the flavonoids coming out of this product, which is so rare in this oversaturated industry.
I love y’all, but I gotta be honest, I gotta be honest, like, there’s a lot of shit product on the marketplace. And this reminds me of home. So would be super excited to share your brands, promote the culture of your business, you know, continue to be an ambassador for you guys. Because at the end of the day, I want to support old school companies who are in a new age industry. And we got to band together. That’s our message and our mission for sure.
What are some final words you have to share with our community? I love for you to just tell a little bit about your story and your start, right free interview you were telling this incredible story about like what it actually takes and a word that stuck out for me was humility. Like sometimes you just got to do anything to get to the something that makes the biggest difference for you and your legacy. So share just quick and dirty a little bit about your story and how you got started.
Eric Foster: I mean, for me personally, I was doing [inaudible]
programming. I ended up working for a gentleman named Martin Bearslo, owner of Roar, I got to give him a big hug and pat on the back. I ended up working for him for multiple years. He allowed me to have the license for Roar, I came back to America. And we started to produce Roar in the midst of that. I was already kind of in the Canadian community in Europe. And we’d seen a niche in the market you know where there was a need in Europe for the Baba the [inaudible] coach the Sour Diesel, the Chem Dog.
Generally, at those times I was only smoking haze or widow or cheese or jack or critical. And those strains they’re nice but they can get old you know if that’s what you’re smoking after a decade. So yeah, thank you, Martin. Thank you for our partners Dinafem seeds, or [inaudible] Pablo they’re like our big brothers there they brought us to give us a chance to kind of be on the global circuit and the rest is kind of history. I hope you’ve done them proud.
Sonia Gomez: I’m sure you have I’m just like, in my eyes I’m crying right now because all the alien weed in the marketplace like there’s the new age folk have no idea I was talking to you know Chip Baker. Do you know the name Chip Baker? He does. So he was telling me the story about how green crack got names. It’s like one of my favorite stories.
One of my favorite cultures like the cannabis community. Big up to all of you veterans out there. The folks who sacrifice time, money, education pioneered this road for us. Thank you so much for everything. Yes, freedom. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve done to make today possible. Without you guys, this would not be the booming industry or interest that’s the globe is watching.
So super grateful to all of you old heads out there who pioneered this and guys who brought the seeds back from the countries that you are visiting, and got that shit back in your backpack? Hell yeah. Thank you. For sure. All right. Much love to you all. Thanks so much for being here. I can’t wait to interview your partners, your wife, we got a lineup that would just rock your socks. So make sure you stay tuned with us, and much more to celebrate over the next few days together, I’m sure
Eric Foster: Thank you so much, Sonia.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Happy to have you. Hey, for those of you guys who are tuning in, we are live from MJBizCon in Las Vegas 2019. Celebrating the official launch of The Hemp Revolution podcast where we are sharing and telling the real story of the industry from the perspective of the business owners and the incredible entrepreneurs who are pushing this movement forward and making it possible for you guys to have access to the products and brands that you want. You need to transform the way that you feel and function every day. I’m your hostess with the mostess, Sonia Gomez and this is the hemp revolution. We’ll see you on our next show guys.
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